Tottenhahahahaham \ A day of epic greatness! \ Arshavin to leave

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When Robin Van Persie first injured himself one of my ‘know it all’ scouse mates said that there would be no way we’d cope without our striker. We stuttered a little and a world class striker could have made things a little easier, but overall, we’ve dealt with the issue extremely well.

Manchester United have benefited from a fantastically inform Wayne Rooney this season. He’s been knocking in Nani and Valencia crosses with incredible regularity. Arsenal fans have cursed his fitness and the United fitness team’s ability to cure his injuries… they also claimed if United ever lost him they’d struggle badly. Well, the injury came and so did the United collapse… they lost to Chelsea, went out to Bayern in the Champions league… and yesterday, they drew to Blackburn!

One man team anyone? I mean, it’s embarrassing that Arsenal can throw a 22 year old Dane into the mix and he can deliver a load of important goals, United throw a £28million striker into the mix and they still lose all effectiveness!

That means if we win the rest of our games, we finish second this year. That’s a fantastic achievement and one we can build on for next year.

That means that the Spurs game becomes the closest thing to a cup final we’ll have all season. Spurs went out of the cup in humiliating went out to cash strapped Pompey. Lord Justice clearly sprayed his magic dust over Wembley in a fantastic day for the south coast club. Spurs hit the wood-work plenty of times but when it came down to it… Pompey were just too clinical for them!

Oh… and Palacios is suspended… Kranky might also be out with a nasty injury.

Poetic or what?

Harry deserves everything he’s getting down at the lane. His awful management of Pompey’s clubs finances and his selfish quest to line his pockets first, think of the well being of the club second should have had him suspended from club management at the very least. Instead, he was rewarded with a cushty job at Spurs. Well, at least we can make sure they don’t take 4th and end the season potless.

We can hope they’ll be mentally drained for us on Wednesday… but for me… there’s no chance. Spurs have 4th to play for and they’ll need to restore their pride.

Wednesday is massive.

I think we’ll be just as up for it though. If I was going to make a prediction, I’d say this will be an incredibly passionate game. I think it has classic written all over it and if I was a betting man, I’d have money on some red cards!

I think we’ll do them… our players will want to banish the ghosts of the Nou Camp and give the faithful something to brag about in the office!

RvP is back in the mixer apparently and JD could be as well. I’ve heard through the grapevine that Robin is training really well and JD is looking sharp. If there was a risk involved, I wouldn’t play Robin. Nik has done more than enough to justify a starting berth. Song will be back to boss the midfield and you’d imagine Sol Campbell will be massively up for playing against his old club. Nasri and Diaby in the middle should be far too much for Spurs.

It’s going to be brilliant. I’m so excited, I’m thinking of investing in some Tena men… my bladder can’t take it these days!

Could we still win the Premiership? I’m not so sure… Chelsea are looking pretty strong at the moment. The best thing we can do is fight till the end and score maximum points. I’ve also got a bit of a problem with Man City. I’d like to reassert some dominance over them! Can’t have them thinking they’re a better team, can we?

I think if this season has proved anything, it’s that we have developed a good base of a squad. Some players haven’t risen to the challenge, but a number have. If we can avoid losing players this summer and replace where necessary, next season could be a different story. Imagine if we had a world class keeper and four top class defenders to choose from? Add Chamakh into the mixer and we could win the Premiership next season.

One bit of worrying news that was shared with us by one of the Grovers in the know, was that Arshavin could be off this summer. I don’t think he’s endeared himself to the faithful this year and I can’t imagine Wenger takes too kindly to his press out pourings and his sometimes lazy displays. Hopefully Arsenal can work around that because the guy is a huge talent and it’d be shame to see him somewhere else. Sol will get a new contract according to the source. This guy gave us the Ade news very early last season and he gave us the Sol resigning story as well.

This is going to be a cracking few weeks… enjoy it, you’ll miss it when the world cup comes!

Come on Arsenal!

P.S. If you haven’t read Old Birds Barca post, make sure you do. It’s an excellent account of an away day experience in Europe. I also forgot to post this excellent article from Who at all the pies yesterday. It fitted quite nicely with my talk of England, until I deleted it and had to start again.

I’ve got 4 away tickets for the Wigan game. If you’re interested, drop me an e-mail and I’ll put you in touch with the owners. My e-mail is in the side bar —->

Oh and just to clear something up. Marmite is a British delicacy that you spread on toast, bagels, potatoes or anything else you can think of. Their slogan is ‘you love it or you hate it‘. That’s why we call certain player the marmite’s, because they divide opinion. If I catch anyone making racist comments or insinuations, they’ll be lobbed off.

I love it more than Bendtner

Le Grove is a blog of love… the only thing that defines a Grover is their opinion. Simple as that.

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Barcelona – Beautiful City, Wonderful Team… Pity about the Club!

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We’re kicking off Monday with a guest blog from a Grover that goes by the name of Old Bird. You might remember her superb guest blog from the summer! Enjoy, I’ll be back in an hour or so with the Monday news review!

Post-match thoughts of a travelling fan

Ok, nothing to say that hasn’t been said about the match. Well done FCB and the truly awesome Messi and thank you Nic B for probably the best 2 minutes of our season (so far)!

I love going to CL away games.  This promised to be as memorable a day out as it’s possible to have in an Arsenal shirt.  Barcelona is one of the most beautiful and friendly cities in Europe, the city/club had set up a good fanzone by the harbour and we wandered the old city and had some great tapas.  We were having an excellent day out ………..until, that is, the coach took us to the stadium!  From this point on we were treated like potential criminals by FCB’s overly officious, unhelpful stewards.

Firstly, in good spirits, we wanted to wander round the Camp Nou (allegedly the greatest stadium in Europe/World), enjoy the atmosphere, take some photos and buy some souvenirs/scarves/food. All the usual pre-game stuff.  Sadly we were barred from this by surly stewards and guided straight into the stadium.  The stall holders outside lost a great deal of money I’m guessing.

Next we were subjected to the sort of body search that Heathrow airport would have been proud of! Fair enough, they have a job to do, and no doubt there are still idiot fans (from other clubs obv) who might try to smuggle in stupid stuff.  However I strongly object to having my handbag (Yes I’m a woman in case you’re worrying) taken off me, given to a steward a few yards away and then being asked to turn round to be searched.  Search my bag by all means but a) I would like to be present and b) wish to keep an eye on my possessions (ie purse/passport/tickets/credit cards etc) while a complete stranger inspects them.

The handbag search (when I was able to watch) beggared belief.  Everything was inspected with enormous care – book, bookmark, reading glasses.  To my great annoyance my miniscule bottle of Dior perfume was confiscated at this point.  My protests were treated rudely.  Did they think it was a nice smelling explosive?  Did they think I was going to throw it? In which case why not take all my coins as well! And actually I’m a relatively respectable (on a good day) woman in her sixties – do I look like a thug? Others around me were having other items taken – camera batteries, folding umbrellas (despite being told before these were allowed) etc.

Finally, somewhat annoyed, we were allowed into the stadium to climb the thousand steps upto the seats in the top of the stadium that our mere 75 euros had bought.  I wonder how much the Barca fans paid for their excellent RINGSIDE seats at the Emirates?  Despite heroic efforts by all the Gooners, it makes it a tad difficult to be the “twelth man” singing your team to victory so far from the pitch.  I would like to think they heard us but frankly doubt it.  No doubt this is the intention.  What a shame.

I expect visiting Barca fans also enjoyed our plentiful toilets complete with toilet paper, hot water, soap and hand driers; none of these were provided.  Great.

It is now 2 hours to kickoff and we are hungry.  Having been barred from the cafes and stalls outside our only choice was the food in the stadium.  This was great too – the only thing on offer was an over-priced and barely cooked sausage in a roll.  Bad luck any veggies. No cheese.  They were selling beer though, much to our surprise (I thought this was not allowed by UEFA but hey).  But 4 euros for half a pint!!! It makes the Emirates sound cheap.

After the match was over, still singing, we were kept behind as expected.  Thanks to those who entertained us with the paper airplanes – good job. Finally released, and still in surprisingly good spirits despite the defeat we were then treated to more heavy stewarding (no you cannot use the toilets on the next level down – thanks a lot!).

So thank you FCB for marring a great day out.  I was delighted to hear from my friends in the City that the media and police were praising our fans – no incidents or arrests all day (despite the beer consumed!).  Well done us.  Perhaps this might be considered if we visit you again.  Of course, a football club must be careful and stewards are essential.  But would it hurt to treat us with some respect? A smile perhaps?  We are just football fans who love the game and our team enough to spend £300 on a day out!  We have come to enjoy a great game of football – just like the Barca fans.  Please don’t spoil your fabulous image as one of the greatest clubs in Europe.  We were treated far better at Seville last year (but you probably don’t want to hear that).

Also, if you’re reading, FCB, please leave our much loved captain alone too!  Mind you, we’d quite like Messi and Xavi.

And finally, please could I have my perfume back (if there’s any left!).  It was J’adore since you asked.

Oldbird

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El Crappico / Eduardo on his way out? / Sol Campbell is a D&Ger… or a realist?

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Well, El Classico was hardly the game we were all expecting. Interesting viewing is about as far as I can stretch when describing Barcelona’s 2-0 win. Madrid never really found top gear, Barca found it when they needed to. The game was won on finishing. Xavi somehow finding Messi with a sublime chip, the Argentine bringing it down with almost zero space, finding the bottom corner with his shot. Then Pedro finishing things off in the second half. Madrid used 2 holding midfielders and broke up Barca’s play well at times, but when all was said and done, even e200million couldn’t threaten Barcelona’s dominance.

That tells you something. When you get into the elite of world football, it comes down to how well you piece your jigsaw together. It comes down to how well the coach trains the team. It comes down to how much hunger the players have. Barcelona play like a team starved of success for a century, truly a pleasure to watch.

I’ve just been traipsing around newsnow to find something to write about. I’ve seen about 4 headlines with ‘Doom and Gloom’ in them. What is it with people and their insistence on telling Gooners how to think? Talking about the reality of what’s going on at Arsenal seems to be a cardinal sin in some peoples book of blogging. Sure there have been positives this season but ignoring the negatives is a bit like burying your head in the sand. It’s pointless because when you eventually raise your head… they’ll still be there, staring back at your menacingly.

Sol Campbell has it bang on in his latest interview.

Everyone has to look at himself after the Barcelona match and say, ‘This is the level you have to get to’.

You can’t think you’re OK when you’re not. This is the level you have to be at.

You have to say, ‘This is the level I want to get to and surpass’. You have to be honest with yourself and say, “I have to work harder, I have to understand the game better” and realise that it’s a big world out there and that there are a lot of good players at big clubs.

“Arsenal haven’t been in this situation for a few years with the league, and this is another area you can learn from and listen to people who have been there and be aware that every time you go out, every point is precious.

All the players who walked out on that pitch against Barca have to have a long hard look at their game and ask whether that was good enough. They have to find that extra bit of hunger in training to take their game to the next level. If they can’t do that, then it’s time to move on. I’m not comforted by that Barcelona game. I’m not proud that we played them at their own game and got thumped. What will make me proud is if we learn from that and make sure the same thing doesn’t happen next season.

We’ve made great improvements in the league this season, but things could be better again. We’ve cost ourselves many points with sloppy defending. If that can be addressed and our defence can match our attack for efficiency, we could be a terrifying outfit next year.

Justifying second best makes being second best seem acceptable. That attitude in itself isn’t an acceptable mindset in top class sport. You need a winning culture at a football club. Players like Sol have that.

Onto a slightly sad subject. The plight of Eduardo. After recovering from that horrific challenge at St Andrews, many of us, rightly or wrongly, presumed that Eduardo would come back to top class football and recover his form. Sadly, after almost 18months, he still hasn’t managed to. He seems to have lost what little pace he had and more importantly, that psychological edge he had when he was in the box. He fears a challenge and opposing defenders seem to pick up on that.

Wenger has used him sparingly this season and when he has gained minutes, Eduardo hasn’t looked half the player he once was. The troubling question is this. How long do you give a player before you cut your loses? We’re not a charity, he’s been paid the whole way through the recovery period… and he’s still not ready. We’re a team pushing for major honours on 2 fronts most seasons. When the annual injury crisis hits, we should be have better options than Arshavin in the middle.

Will Wenger cut his losses this summer? Was Eduardo the sad news Andy Abrahams was talking about? I’d say there was a 60% chance of that being the case…

Another interesting problem that seems to have arisen is the Carlos Vela one. Last season he lit up our screens with some dazzling displays of outrageous skill and clinical finishing. Many fans, myself included, thought this would be his break through year. Especially when Wenger told us at Christmas Carlos was the reason he didn’t recruit when he sold Ade… because our Mexican was the new Robbie Fowler. Well, that was either one big fat lie or Carlos Vela was caught taking a dump in the manager’s office.

He’s been given hardly any chances at all this season. I find it staggering that a player with undeniable talent doesn’t seem to get a look in? He really has fallen foul of Wenger for some reason? People point to his exploits with Mexico… well, we knew he was Mexican when we signed him didn’t we?

It came to a head last week when Carlos was omitted from the Nou Camp squad after forgetting his passport. A bit dim you have to say, probably the type of oversight you’d expect to signal the end of your Arsenal career. That’s a great shame… he’s a real talent, I’m sure he’ll do well in La Liga. Just like Merida will. Another player who has had minimum playing time compared to some of the Marmite compatriots.

Anyway, I’m off down south today. Enjoy watching the mighty Pompey take apart our most repugnant neighbours from down the road!

1-0 Pompey!

That’d make my weekend!

Happy blogging!

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